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Gems in Arellano University’s book collection

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Biblioteca de Universidad de Arellano

Pío Andrade, Jr.

If you go to the Graduate School library of Arellano University, you will certainly notice bookshelves with the label “Rare Books Collection.” On these shelves are books published before 1939. You will find books on various fields: literature, home economics, engineering, history, biography, science, business, the arts, and many others.

Most of the titles in the 360-book collection are in either literature or home economics.

The books on home economics may have been part of the personal collection of Mrs. Elisa Esguerra, wife of Florentino Cayco, Sr., the founder of Arellano University. She was a teacher of home economics, then called domestic science.

Old books they are but many are “goldies;” they are worth your reading time. The first time I browsed through the collection, I found the following outstanding books:

1. Home Economics in Education by Isabel Devier — Do not be misled by its title, for the author did not only discuss the importance of home economics in education but also the history of home economics education through the ages.

2. Perfumes, Cosmetics, and Soaps by William Poucher — This is a classic book on perfumes and cosmetology. It is a must-read for perfume makers and cosmetologists. The College of the Holy Spirit, which had an outstanding science program before, has three volumes of the 1953 edition of this classic. AU has a volume of the 1929 edition.

3. Leonardo the Florentine by Marlon Taylor — This is an outstanding biography of the greatest genius that ever lived: Leonardo da Vinci.

4. Gardening with Herbs by Helen N. Fox — This books is an outstanding reference on herbal gardening. This writer knows, because he has been doing gardening of herbs for over a decade now, and has his own collection of the best books on herbs and herbal gardening published in the last ten years. Fox’s herbal gardening book is better in many respects than the new herb books, even though it was published in 1933. It has been reprinted several times over the years. The AU copy is a 1949 reprint. The book is outstanding in that it does not only deal with cultivation but also with the history and lore of herbs. Its bibliography is the most outstanding feature of the book, for its goes as far back as the Middle Ages.

5. Year 1948; Year 1949 — These are yearbooks and they are outstanding pictorial chronicles of key events in all countries of the world during the year. The pictures and text give the reader a good grasp of the progress, as well as the problems, of the postwar years.

6. Secretos de la Política Española by J. Villamala (ed.) — This book is among the few Spanish editions in the AU Rare Book Collection. It is a criticism of the political activities of the Masons in the 1930’s. What is surprising though about this book is that it devoted 140 of its 195 pages on the question of José Rizal’s retraction before the discovery of his alleged retraction note in 1935. I found in this book many details that have neither been discussed nor written about by both the pro- and anti-Rizal retraction among our historians and Rizal biographers.

Had I dwelt more on other topics, perhaps, I would have found many more gems. I am sure, today’s hotel and restaurant management as well as tourism students of the university would find the old books on home economics still relevant to their lessons.

Leaf through their pages and you will certainly find them worth your while.

(First published in Arellano University’s website)


What if Allen Ginsberg was a Filipino?

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Or how I syncopated the essence of “Hadda be Playin’ on the Jukebox”
José Mario Alas

Hadda be flashing like the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Hadda be playing on Wowowee
Hadda be loudmouthed on The Buzz!
Hadda be announced over loud speakers
The military and the Abu Sayyaf are in cahoots
Hadda be said in socialite language
Hadda be said in Pinoy headlines
Aguinaldo, Magsaysay, and Aquino stretched and smiled and got doublecrossed by low life international goons & agents
Gay bankers with criminal connections
Dope pushers in NBI working with dope pushers from China working with big time syndicate Parañaque City
Hadda be said with a big mouth
Hadda be moaned over factory foghorns
Hadda be chattered on barber shop news broadcast
Hadda be screamed in a rural slaughterhouse
Hadda be yelled in the plazas where young lovers are petting it out
Hadda be howled on the streets by newsboys to jeepney barkers
Hadda be foghorned into Pásig River
Hadda echo under hard hats
Hadda turn up the volume in cheeky high school proms
Hadda be written on unused library books, footnoted
Hadda be in headlines of Sagad, Hataw, and Toro
Hadda be barked over TV
Hadda be heard in side alleys thru KTV bars
Hadda be sent via SMS
Hadda be cellphones ringing, comedians stopped dead in the middle of a comedy bar joke in Las Piñas,
Hadda be GMA, NEDA Neri, Mayor Atienza, and COMELEC Ábalos golfing together weekends or whenever/wherever —
As reported by almost all dailies across the islands
Hadda be the Freemasons and the neocolonialists together
Started war on Mindanáo, poison on Recto, assassination of Luna and Aquino
Hadda be dope cops and the kidnap-for-ransom crooks
Kidnapped all those filthy-rich scions in Chinatown
Hadda be the NBI and the military working together in cahoots against the leftists
Let Lucky Manzano campaign for both mommy and daddy… family relations, party fidelities, political madness
Hadda be religious goons bribing cross-eyed officials with vote-rich members, singing gospel gobbledygook, praising money and recruitment
Hadda be heard inside the classrooms:
Nationwide brainwashing by UP professors
Hadda be the police, and organized crime, and the military together
Bigger than Gloria, bigger than ZTE-NBN!!!
Hadda be a gorged throat full of murder
Hadda be mouth and ass a solid mass of rage
A red hot head, a scream in the back of the throat
Hadda be in Obama’s brain
Hadda be in Clinton’s mouth
Hadda be the Pinoy language committe, pidginizing our tongue,
erasing our identity, forgetting who we are, what we were…
The Palace, the military, the billionaire cronies, the police, UP historians teaching the leyenda negra,
Protestants and Freemasons,
Dope pushers and sadists,
One big set of criminal gangs working together in cahoots
Hitmen, murderers everywhere, outraged, on the make
Secret drunk brutal dirty rich
On top of a heap of slovenly prisons, industrial cancer, burned plastic bags, garbage cities, Hollywood movies, Erap’s resentments
Hadda be the rulers, wanted law and order they got rich on
Wanted protection, status quo, wanted junkies for poll watchers, wanted influence, wanted Magsaysay to die in an air crash, wanted war over the Spratlys for oil to feed their diamond-laced cats
Hadda be the police and organized crime and the military and Gary V.
Multinational capitalists’ strong arms squads,
Private detective agencies for the very rich
And their armies, navies, and air force bombing rival political clans and their hapless supporters.
Hadda be neocolonialism, the vortex of this RAGE
This “gobbleization”
Man to man
Nation to nation
Hayden to Katrina
Horses’ heads in the haciendero‘s bed, Luisita turf and farmers’ rallies, hit men, gang wars across political landscapes,
Bombing Basilan with “firecrackers” will not settle the score (because they never wanted to settle the score for hunger for funds)
Joma’s red democracy bumped off with the Palace’s pots and pans, a warning to rural local governments
Secret armies embraced for decades, the military and the Palace keep each other’s secrets, the Freemasons and the anti-Catholics/Protestants never hit their own,
The KKK and Ku Klux Klan are one mind
Brute force and full of enmity
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
It hadda be rich, it hadda be powerful,
Hadda hire history from US universities
Hadda murder in Indonesia — 500,000
Hadda murder in Indochina — 2,000,000
Hadda murder in Czechoslovakia
Hadda murder in Chile
Hadda murder in Russia…
Hadda murder kids over 10 in Sámar
Hadda murder in the Philippines — 1,250,000

Hadda milk us more till we fall apart…


Our treasured family values: scribbling like a mad potato like the one I saw in a run-down wet market filled with earthworms, screaming beggars, fighting vendors, and siesta-fanatics eager to forget the trauma caused by Ondoy and Pepeng who weren’t even invited to attend Pacman’s victory party over Pacmom’s debut movie about happy families resembling one another but that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, only to realize that it was Tolstoy who said that in Anna Karenina (not the TV soap) just to prove that he’s a prrrrrrrroud Rrrrrrrrrussian and that I’m not… but there’s still sunshine left!

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Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements. –Queen Elizabeth II–

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation into a mere money relation. –Friedrich Engels

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family:
Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
–Jane Howard–

I just got to have a family. –Pepe Alas–


Facebook: What’s on my mind?

Pepe Alas Going through very difficult times again: still no nannies for our kids; no choice, can’t go to work; writer’s block; depression; frequent low blood pressure attacks; and worse, our rent-to-own house might be cancelled, and it’s not even our fault. Good grief… why us??? =( Thu at 6:52pm
Pepe Alas I’d really appreciate it if anyone of you would take care two of our four kids for just a few days. Don’t worry: they’re polite and nice and loveable… exactly like their dad! And they’re fun to be with! They might even teach you some Spanish. Por favor, help us… Thu at 7:31pm
Jaime Martinez del Rio Pepe, animo! Ojala pudiera ayudar y estoy seguro de que muchos amigos tuyos lo haran. Si de algo sirven mi apoyo moral y amistad eso lo tienes! Aun cuando nos cubren los nubarrones mas negros aun ahi hay esperanza, y siempre vienen los tiempos mejores. Dios nos ama, ya veras que todo estara mejor! Thu at 7:37pm
Anmie Samson Martinez Relax lang. This too shall pass. Why will your “rent-to-own” contract be cancelled? What happened? Thu at 8:13pm
Leslie Nobleza hay mdmi tlg may gnyang problema.. ngka2ubusan n ata ng yaya ah.. ako pwde, mga 100k/month.hihihi Thu at 8:30pm
Arnaldo Arnáiz hang on there hombre, help is chopperin’ down… Thu at 11:34pm
Ragna Ivez pWdE b kO magAppLy, bUkoD s FrEe TuTpAsTe, sHampU at sAbOn..kLangAn mAy fRee mEaL, 2LuGan, dAILy gMik aLloWaNce (xMpRe pSyaL kMi ng mGa kIdoz) at ang rAte kO eh 3K a day wIth TutOriAL uN ah.. ahahha… kYa nYo yAn… sMiLe p rIn.. aJaaaaaaa!!! Thu at 11:46pm
Joaquin Montenegro Pertierra galing ren ako diyan more than a week ago, hirap talaga! Yesterday at 1:52am
Ann Cecil Evora kaya mo yan cuz! Yesterday at 1:56am
Levi Landrito Soledad You’ll get past through this Panyero, steady lang. Yesterday at 6:52am
Lian Gabrielle Santos Tado!! Este Pepe pala!!! Yakang yaka mo yan Peps!! Kaw pa! You’re no spanish speaking rep for nothing!!! Yesterday at 12:11pm
Pepe Alas Thanks everyone, for the moral support. Being a depressive, I really need it. My wife couldn’t take the pressure. Partly, it’s my fault; I’ve been grouch, myself. Now she already left our home together with two of our youngest boys. Pacasalán co na lang daw yung mga pinagsúsusulat co. I shouldn’t be writing about this here in Facebook. Caso grabe ang samá ng loób co ngayón. Waláng macá-usap, eh. =( Yesterday at 4:58pm
Ragna Ivez wKa n sAd JoMz… sUNdUin mO n cLa, ngHhNtay cLa s u.. b sTrOng.. bOth of U ni JenNy.. oKi?! kEeP oN rOckIn.. aJa… Yesterday at 5:09pm
Ria Gee D hey cheer up its just one of those days..mahal ka non..alam na alam ko yun Yesterday at 6:16pm
Leslie Nobleza sad.. espero q todo salga bien amigo. el Señor va a ayudarte. Today at 1:31pm
Anthony Castillo nid lng ni yeyette ng time space warp, be patient.

Pepe Alas had an ugly fight with Yeyette. Might separate… =( Yesterday at 3:29pm
Din Velilla =( kapatid… sad… i hope you can still fix it! Yesterday at 3:30pm
Ann Michelle Tulod ;( Yesterday at 3:31pm
Lilet Alas Fernandez AY SUS… LILIPAS DIN YAN!!LOVE NYO ISA’T ISA EH DI BA?? Yesterday at 4:25pm
Nante Cole pare maayos din yan. dami nyo na pinag daanan eh. wala yan! kayo pa Yesterday at 4:26pm
Lilet Alas Fernandez Pressured lang kyo kc wala kayong househelp… Yesterday at 4:27pm
Buenafe DelMundo De Padua ssshh… pepe and yet, talk it over guys 🙂 Yesterday at 4:37pm
Pepe Alas Too late. She already left the house with Jefe and Juanito. I was able to persuade her to leave Krystal and Momay. Krystal is still crying. What did I do to deserve this?… =( Yesterday at 4:55pm
Buenafe DelMundo De Padua … it will be sorted out. however.. Yesterday at 4:59pm
April Ordiales-Katigbak follow her and talk to her… =( Yesterday at 5:23pm
Ai Ivy Chua aaww, if you really love each other and still want to work it out, go to her and talk it out when both of you cools down….things will work out fine buddy, just have faith *hugs* Yesterday at 6:09pm
Maureen Tiamsic-Dulay Anooo? panu na yung forever? Ikaw na lang magpakababa. I know you guys will be able to work it out. Yesterday at 7:06pm ·
Pogi Nazaret jom, I hope you’re not pulling another jomar… You’ve been through so much already… Yesterday at 7:17pm ·
Imee Rabang relax lang chong… baka nag-hahanap lang din si Yeyette ng space…am sure she loves you and your children that much, to give up your family will never be an option. Yesterday at 7:30pm
George Madriaga chillax amigo !!!! Yesterday at 10:22pm
Anthony Castillo hayz… Yesterday at 11:08pm
Maria Rubia Alas are you serious this tym, Jomar? o biro2 lang? Today at 12:11am
Cake Mendoza This IS a heartbreaking post. I hope you two work things out… 😥 Today at 12:55am
Jennifer Sanguir May gusto lang sabihin si Yeyette na hindi mo magets joms…importante pa din ang pag uusap. Today at 3:26am
Myla Irene Penson i hope everything will be fine soon… Today at 3:45am
Paolo Raphael Balicao kuya ayusin nio yan..wag pdalos dalos sa desisyon..goodluck Today at 8:59am
Ryan B. Palisocdude kmusta nsa marcelo nko nktira ano cell mo kita kits tyo minsan yngats and regards kay misis heres my no.09062700407 gb Today at 12:03pm
Ryan B. Palisoc dude there are times na mahairap dmi nyo na pinagdaanan wg nio isuko ang laban ………….usap lng yan Today at 12:05pm
Aileen Candido usap lang at magintindihan …mahirap ang iniisip mo Today at 1:02pm
Jesse Soriano mzta na po 11 hours ago


Facebook: messages

Janis Santiago November 20 at 5:40pm

Hola de nuevo! I read your shout out.. what’s wrong??

Pepe, hayaan mo muna si Yeyette, para lang bumaba un tension between the 2 of you… at Para makapagisip kayong dalawa. You know, Yan ang scenario everyday, pagnaghiwalay kayo.. watak-watak un family nyo and your kids will be confused..
Un mga days na di kayo magkasama, both of you will realize that. May be hindi pa today kc asar pa kayo sa isa’t-isa.. Pero, eventually, pagnawala na un inis, then reality will begin to sink in.. both of you will miss each other.. Sometimes, hiwalayan isn’t permanent. May be kaya sya umalis so she could breathe.

Maybe nag freak out lang kayo sa mga pressures ng pagkakataon lately like walang maid, bills to pay, di makapasok sa work etc. and napasukan ng inis. Pero nalampasan nyo naman un dati, so, i’m sure malalampasan nyo ulit to. Ito un time na dapat you pray hard. Ask help from God and healing from angel Raphael. Effective sya, promise. Sabihin mo sa kanya lahat ng problems mo, talk to him like as if he’s just your bestfriend.. Hindi beer ang solution, magdasal ka.
Later, i’ll ask un maid ng neighbor ko na may kamag anak sa Laguna if meron silang alam na gustong mamasukan dyan. God Bless ü

4 na un mga anak ninyo, tsaka pa ba kayo maghihiwalay?? I mean, isipin nyo un mga anak ninyo kc kawawa naman sila if masisira un family nyo..

Hi Janis.

You are right. Ngayón pa nga lang nagpapalitan na camí ng txt messages.

Sobra, talagáng nag-freak out na camí parejo. Ang hirap ng apat ang anác, tapos walá namáng mag-aalagà. May pambayad namán camí, walá namáng mahanap. Tapos yung problema pa namin sa PAG-IBIG Fund at CHMI. Bacá bawiin yung bahay na binilí namin noóng isáng taón. Ang problema hindí sa aquin, eh — dun sa compañíang pinagtátrabahuhan co ngayón. Tapos yung credit card debts namin palaquí na ng palaquí. May pambayad din caso palaguí cong nacacalimutan — ewan co ba. Tapos yung mga dapat cong isulat, hindí co masimulán — dahil nahíhirapan na acóng magsulát. Ang paquiramdám co tulóy, ang bobo-bobo co ná. Casí hindí na talagá acó catulad ng dati: isáng upó lang, may verso na caagád acóng naiisip. Ngayón, tuyót na. Tapos nahihirapan camí sa mga gawáing bahay. Ayoco talagáng gumawà. Ang gusto co lang magsulát, magbasá, magsulát, magbasá…

We’ve been on our own since we eloped 10 years ago. Talagáng waláng camág-anac na puede naming mahiñgán ng tulong. We’ve been away from them ever since. At isá pá, nacácahiya namáng mang-istorbo. Iláng taóng waláng balita sa amin, tapos magpáparamdam lang camí capág may cailañgang tulong.

You know, I’ve caused my wife so much hurt because of my odd behavior. They say it’s a “writer’s thing”, a chronicler’s eccentricity. I do not want to be disturbed whenever I ponder on some things that I need to scribble down. Whenever I do that, I tend to neglect so many things. Including my responsibilities to my family.

I don’t even know how to go further with this explanation (excuse? defense?). It’s so private, yet I tend to go public with it (by posting it here on FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES. It’s stupid, just plain stupid. We should’ve just talked about my dilemma using our language, then post the conversation in ALAS FILIPINAS. But then again, nobody here in the silly Philies would understand us — fu©k the 1987 Constitution for that! Nobody’d understand me. I won’t be able to understand myself. And I want the whole world to understand me…

Yes, I’m begging for poignancy, and that’s just to keep my fu©k!ng unsharpened pen sharp, matulis, con punta, and with much life, enough to wake up sleeping trees bending gently with the breeze, and for sobbing statesmen with the same family problems –hidden from public scrutiny and entertainment– to sit up and orate extemporaneously about my being an out and out individualist, in love with humanities, in love with my psyche, frustrated with society, angry at so many things that I want to control but couldn’t, angry at my childhood, angry at the slipshod masa, angry at the lifestyles of the rich and boring, angry at the present, worried about the future, longing for what was then, all-mixed up, going crackers again…

Sorry Janis, my mind’s a vortex of an uncompounded rage as I write this……. I couldn’t even ask for Archangel Raphael’s intercession right now. I still remember what my friend JB Lazarte told me the last time we met in 2004. He said that when he heard the news that Yeyette and I had a child (Krystal, in 2000), he somehow felt compunctious over what would happen to me as a writer now that I’ll have other responsibilities. But I understood him perfectly well because Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera shared to me the same reaction months before.

“The main reason why my wife and I separated,” said he, “was because of all these.” And he pointed out to me the countless tomes of books scattered on his floor, stacked on his shelves, books and magazines under the bed, inside the washroom, within the kitchen walls. Yeah, it was then why I understood why Paciano Rizal and the other Freemasons kept José Rizal from being married to Leonor Rivera…

He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. –Sir Francis Bacon (with ham, eggs, fried rice, and Tang orange juice)–

Old man Gómez’s marriage was a failure. But he achieved so much it makes me want to puke with envy…

Pero normal namán talagá ang mga hindí pagcacá-unawaán sa familia. Minsan, mahirap talagáng maiwasan yun. Pero minsan, may mga away na mabigát. Catulad na lang ng nangyaring itó sa amin ni Yeyette cahapon. Sa tuwíng may mabigát na away, magháhamon ng hiwalayan (at gagatuñgan pa ng mga in-laws). Sometimes, I’d like to think that I’m single again, so that I could do the things that I really want without any hassle.

I’ve never had a bachelor’s life because I got married at a very young age (nineteen). But I’m not exactly after a swinging bachelor’s life. I’m just looking for a sense of freedom… For ‘man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains’ (fu©k you for that, Rousseau). I yearn for liberty, but not exactly from matrimony. I’m refering to something else. And that something else is lurking behind the perpetually rainy mountains of Monte de Maquíling, in the forbidden forests of Mindanáo, in the ancient rivers of the Visayas… I want to embrace what no man has dared embrace before…

But I just couldn’t anymore.

It’s difficult to pretend what I am not. I just couldn’t think of myself without my Krystal, my Momay, my Jefe, my Juanito.

Life will seem to be difficult without Yeyette by my side. Life won’t even be life at all without her and our children.

Just observe what’s happening right now inside my mind while she’s away: deathly neurons exploding like heartache bits inside a microwave-like cerebral cortex — poppin’ and poppin’ and poppin’ and Mary poppin’… I’d go crazy without my family. If I’ll ever lose them, expect to see me makin’ love to a sexless táong grasa soon.

What about my, uh, responsibilities as a scribbler and “self-styled” defender of the national identity silently rumbling within the fabric of the Filipino cosmos? This is the price I have to pay. If I’m destined to have a life like this, then so be it. At the very least, I am not economically downtrodden. And I should be thankful for that.

The road to the truth has never been easy. Damn, I ain’t even a saint. Just who the fu©k am I? I’m just a piece of turd from an eternally swiveling galactic dust going nowhere for aeons.

Thus, I feel like the fictitious messiah of Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. I tend to runaway from being crucified.

But that’s just the way it has to be.

Nevertheless, Janis, you made my day, my dear friend. We’re sending text messages now. Yeyette’s a very strong person; I am not. She’s only made weak whenever I scream at her out of my frustration about so many things in life. She’s been very patient with me, especially during my godless days.

Quisiera darte mi agradecimiento, por todo tu apoyo y consejo en estos tiempos malditos de cólera. Te quiero mucho como mi amiga, Janis. Que Dios te bendiga. I’ll go see Yeyette in ATC right now. With our children. For lunch. We’ll talk. About a lot of things. Let’s see what’ll happen. Cacayanin namin itó, lalong lalo na’t alám namin na ‘di camí nag-íisa.

A todos nuestros amigos, gracias por la inquietud que teneis sobre nuestra situación.

¡Y gracias por vuestro amor!

Facebook alert: today is the feast day of Christ The King…

Stª Filomena Almarínez, the incorruptible of Biñán

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Filomena Almarínez (1913-1938)

Although foreign-sounding first names such as Anne, Sam, and Angel have been the vogue these past few years, the practice of naming Filipinos after Spanish-named saints still pervades up to modern times. For instance, my real name José Mario was taken from two saints: St. Joseph, the foster-father of Our Lord and Savior, and his bride, the Blessed Mother of Christ Jesus.

In Biñán, La Laguna, we came across a curious case of an incorruptible “saint” who is not yet recognized by the Catholic authorities. Her name is Filomena Almarínez, obviously named after a canonized Greek princess who was martyred sometime in the 4th century: Saint Philomena.


St. Philomena, patron saint of impossible cases.

To Catholics, Saint Philomena (English translation of the Spanish Stª Filomena) is also a curious case. Christians started venerating her in the early 19th century when her remains were discovered in the Catacombs of Priscilla (in Via Salaria, Rome, Italy). There is not much information known about her aside from a Latin inscription found at her tomb: Filumena which means “daughter of light”. She is also known to be the patron saint of children.

I first became acquainted with this saint more than a decade ago. One of my cousins, Amador II L. Alas, or Josh, was stricken with the deadly cancer Burkitt’s lymphoma. After several months of battling the fatal disease, Josh’s doctors here in the Philippines have given up hope on him. But not us, of course.

I can’t remember anymore if it was my grandmother or one of my aunties’ who distributed St. Philomena novena prayercards among family members. I got one and kept it inside my wallet, praying the novena from time to time for the quick recovery of my cousin. Eventually, he was brought to a famous medical facility in the US and there he was miraculously healed.

Doubting Thomases would be quick to retort: it’s science who healed your cousin, Pepe. Not totally true. The wise logic and argumentation of the Doctors of the Church have proven time and again that science is dead without faith (but that’s for another blogpost).

Today, as you look at my cousin’s photo below, who would’ve known that he was a victim of Burkitt’s lymphoma many years ago? (and who would’ve even known that he’d grow up to be as handsome as me?)


But after that cancer incident, I’ve completely forgotten about St. Philomena (I can’t even remember where my prayercard is anymore). Until last week when I read in Facebook that my comrades Arnaldo Arnáiz and Levi Soledad are talking about a possible Biñán “field work”. They’re talking about visiting some beata there. I sent them a message saying that I’ll join them although I don’t know exactly what they’re up to.

Initially, I thought that we’re going to visit only a relic or some preserved body part of a saint. I was surprised to hear from Arnaldo that we’re going to visit St. Philomena. Upon hearing of the familiar name, it started to register into my mind the events of long ago, about my cousin, his cancer, and the prayercard (I just couldn’t forget the picture of the young saint with the arrows). So I thought that one of her relics was in Biñán. I misunderstood Arnaldo: he was referring to a totally different person, another Philomena, an incorruptible who is yet to be recognized by the Catholic Church.

We went to Biñán on a rainy Wednesday afternoon (4 November 2009). We were on a rendezvous with Levi, a Biñán native, inside Pavilion Mall. On the way, Arnaldo explained to me what little information he had about this “unrecognized saint”.

Upon meeting with Levi (whose slick red car we used), we drove towards the place where Stª Filomena was interred: Biñán’s public cemetery, popularly known as the St. Filomena Cemetery (nicknamed after her).

Stª Filomena’s incorruptible remains are housed inside a well-maintained chapel named after her. We got to talk to a lady called Nanay Deneng who has been taking care of the chapel for years (later on, she told us that we were so lucky to have arrived at a very opportune time — the chapel is rarely open nowadays). From her we got to know a lot about this mysterious Filipina whose lifeless body refuses to rot…

Filomena was born on 6 July 1913 in Barrio San Antonio Biñán (then spelled as Viñáng) to poor farmers. Unlike many female saints, she wasn’t a nun nor was she a member of any religious organization. She was just an ordinary citizen. But stories today say that she was a very prayerful lady during her lifetime.

One day, on 13 August 1938, she suddenly died of unknown causes. She was only 25, very young. Stories say that she died of emotional stress and heartache because her parents were against her lover.

Nine years later, in 1947, her father followed her to the grave. And when the people dug her coffin so that her father’s remains could rejoin hers (a common practice a long time ago), they were shocked to discover that her mortal remains didn’t rot!

She was discovered to be incorruptible!

Too bad Stª Filomena’s incorruptible body is no longer available for public viewing. It used to be in the past. But a couple of years ago, it was buried in a tomb inside the chapel, and that tomb was what we saw when we went there. Sayang talagá. And Nanay Demeng doesn’t know the exact reason as to why it was decided to bury the “uncanonized saint” altogether. So the only thing we saw, aside from the chapel and the glass coffin which used to house her incorruptible body, were photos of her when she was still alive and during the time that her incorruptible body was still available for everyone to see. (Go to ALAS FILIPINAS for more photos and info… but written in the Spanish language)

It was –to borrow from today’s youth– creepy! In books and on Cable TV, particularly a National Geographic documentary on incorruptible saints, I’ve encountered cases about the incorruptible beatos y beatas of the Catholic Church. But this is the first time that I saw a photograph of an incorruptible whose eyes didn’t decompose! And, surprisingly, the eyes of Stª Filomena in the said photograph are partly open! Everything seems to be intact: the cornea, the sclera, the iris, the pupil!

When a person dies, the eyes are supposed to be one of the first parts of a human body to decompose since it is composed mainly of aqueous components and proteins (collagen). But this is not the case with those of Stª Filomena!

I am not an authority to speak out as to why such a phenomena happens. Even that National Geographic episode on incorruptible saints wasn’t able to give a firm conclusion. But what struck me more is that why the Catholic Church still doesn’t recognize this “saint”. According to Nanay Demeng, –and Nanay Rosa who later joined us that afternoon– it could be the fact the Stª Filomena is now under the auspices of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, the schismatic group dating back to the revolution of 1896.

The members of this group are more popularly known as Aglipayans or Aglipayanos because its first bishop was Gregorio Aglípay. When the ilustrados (composed mostly of Freemasons) staged a revolt against Spain, they chose Fr. Aglípay to head the schismatic church. The leaders of the revolution still considered the Iglesia Filipina Independiente as Catholic. The only thing is that they refused to recognize the authority of the Vatican for the simple reason that the Holy See is connected with Spain and the much hated friars. The founding of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente is actually a part of the Filipinos’ rebellion against Madre España.

But just like what Levi whispered to me in the chapel, the Aglipayans are still Catholics. But darn, Spain is no longer here. So is there still any other valid reason why they refuse to reunite with the Vatican?

The curious case of Stª Filomena, the saint who is not yet a saint, should not be taken lightly. People have been talking about miracles attributed to her intercession. Not to mention her apparitions. To avoid a possible cult-like behavior from the ignorant, both the local Catholic authorities and leaders of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente should work hand in hand to once and for all come up with a conclusion as to whether or not Filomena Almarínez’s sainthood is valid or not.

In parting, let me share to you our photo below taken inside the venerated chapel:


Inside the mysterious Stª Filomena Chapel (left to right: Levi, Arnaldo, Nanay Deneng, and The Fantabulous).

The original Stª Filomena of Greece, by the way, is also known as the “Daughter of Light”. That’s why it freaked me out a little bit to see those eye-like lights from two small windows right above us, very open like the eyes of Stª Filomena de Biñán!

Other peculiarities: Both Filomenas (the one from Corfu, Greece and the one from Biñán, La Laguna) died at a very early age. And what’s more shocking is that both died almost at the same date: St. Philomena of Greece died on August 10; ours died on the 13th of that month!

Are these coincidences?

And one more thing: how does one perceive light?

Through the eyes, of course…

Related links:
Santa Filomena Almarines
Visiting Biñan’s “Santa Filomena”

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